(Disclaimer: At the risk of pissing you off before we even start, this post works best if you have a sub attached to your system. I know, I know… Hey, headphones will do in a pinch)
Sounds that make you plotz
I was going to entitle this post “Best Remix of the Year So Far” and merely reference the awesome Nero remix of The Streets’ “Blinded By The Light”.
But then I was talking with a kid at robot job about how I thought a great remix can be more/better than the original track. He did not believe me and challenged me to show him some examples.
This argument came at a fortuitous time because now we have solid evidence that the dubstep sound which has been bubbling underground for the last 3 years is busting into the mainstream… And one of the ways it’s doing it is via the remix.
Dubstep busts out all over, again
The Streets’ 2004 record “A Grand Don’t Come for Free” was a “concept album” about how our hero loses a grand and the saga which follows. The song “Blinded By the Light” was chapter four in the saga and involved him going to a club, getting high and wondering where his friends are. It was released as third single from the record but did not do too well. Perhaps it was because the song was too abstract, or the lyrics too mumbled, or the female vocal out of place. The original video put it all together rather nicely…
So much for that, we assumed. Until a month ago, when a few DJs in the UK started playing a remarkable remix by Nero (a duo?). When I heard it on Annie Mac’s Radio 1 show, I just could not place it. Then a week later it twigged.
Here’s what it sounds like now:
The first 30 seconds or so are fairly obvious, next section with the female vocals is almost pedestrian, but they hold the attention. Things get interesting when Skinner’s half-mumbled narration drops in on the break. Then we get the build-up. Now here is where things can go wrong. If they merely go back to the earlier textures all is lost. Shit need to get filthy, and it does. At 1:50 the filth busts out and success is assured.
No release date scheduled for this version yet. No surprise really, as The Streets has released two full records since this song appeared originally. Word is that Skinner likes the remix and they just have to work out the details with the record company.
It’s the remix of the year so far for me.
In early May Annie Mac’s Essential Mix (Hotfile, MP3, 51Mb, 57 min long, opens in new window) set included a version of the La Roux song “In for the Kill”. I had heard the original in March, but it had not impressed much.
It felt a bit like a Human League or a Yaz(oo) manqué. It has a vocal quality we don’t hear too often, but the synths were just a bit too too for me. Nonetheless, it was a solid hit in the UK, entering the chart at number 11. Then Skream, one of the top names in the dubstep scene weighed in …
We are seeing the trend now, start with the familiar musical element, vocal or instrumental, then give it some unexpectedly deep bass and move on from there. In the La Roux/Skream case he drops the beat at 1:50 It’s a good one beat, but not ferocious. It’s bass we’re about here. The beat goes away at 3:10 and we are beatless for a full minute, an eternity in todays’s world. After that minute of vocals we could plausibly exit quite well satisfied. But Skream ain’t finished yet. At 4:10 the beat doubles into a techstep/d&b tempo, the bass drops in again and we’re off to the races… It’s so wonderfully clinical. The perfect way to introduce this sound to the mainstream. Remix a very popular song with filthy bass and a grinding beat, then speed up at the end so that the DJs can get in to a faster tempo in their sets.
Here in America, they have apparently decided to release this version on the US version of the “Quicksand” EP, relegating it to a B-side (if there is such a thing on a CD). A few references here and there (like the amazon link above) don’t identify the track as the remix, but the Interscope site does.
Finally, we return to scene of an earlier triumph. The Crookers remix of Kid Cudi’s “Day n Night” was a cause for much rejoicing last year. We’ll take is as read that you are familiar with the original and the Crookers versions (as if!). Now keep those in mind ……
And pay particular attention to second number 58
I think that just might be the aural definition of “plotz”